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Archive for Sunday, September 19, 1999

SENSE FOR SENIORS

September 19, 1999

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My mother's sister was here visiting from Florida recently. The family was talking for one of the first times about how each of us wanted to be treated medically toward the ends of our lives. My aunt had a document titled "Five Wishes" that is something like a living will -- but much softer and more friendly. Do you know about this document? Is it valid in Kansas?

I do know a little about this document -- and no, it's not valid in Kansas yet, but the political process to gain its acceptance is under way.

"Five Wishes" was developed by the Commission on Aging with Dignity in Tallahassee, Fla., funded by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The goal is to make talking about end-of-life issues easier. It de-emphasizes all the medical minutiae, which keep many people from filling out a living will and it emphasizes family relationships. Thirty-three states have accepted the "Five Wishes" as a legitimate living will.

Basically, here are the five wishes that each person fills out:

  • The person you want to make care decisions for you if you can't;
  • The kind of medical treatment you want or don't want;
  • How comfortable you want to be;
  • How you want people to treat you;
  • What you want loved ones to know.

Although "Five Wishes" is not a Kansas-approved living will yet, you might find the document a great way to involve the family in practical discussions -- before death is near and everyone is operating in crisis mode.

You may request a copy of "The Five Wishes living will" by sending a written request to: Dying with Dignity, P.O. Box 1661, Tallahassee, Fla. 32302. Include $4 per copy to help defray printing and mailing costs; checks may be made to Aging with Dignity.

Anything that will help us Kansans talk about death a bit more freely with family and friends is a good thing. Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

-- If you have questions or comments for "Sense for Seniors," write to Betty Gibb, Kansas Senior Press Service, 11875 S. Sunset, Suite 200, Olathe 66061.

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